I was absolutely dreading my antenatal class on Saturday. The thought of birth videos, synchronised breathing and mom-bonding completely freaked me out. This whole having to push a baby out thing is just becoming far too real. My fear is comprised of many elements but a large part of it is the uncertainty and the lack of control (I won’t even mention the pain … oh the pain) that envelops the act of birth. Much to my relief, antenatal class went a long way to quelling some of the fear relating to the whole ‘WTF am I supposed to do’ part – without birthing videos and the accompanying crap that I had assumed would formulate the class.
Naturally there were cringe-worthy moments that included information relating to the choice between third- and fourth-degree tears or an episiotomy; the release of meconium (common if the baby is overdue) that will make your breaking waters a lovely green colour; and an informal demonstration done with an epidural needle – a very long epidural needle. The uncomfortable but necessary discussion of the aforementioned was well compensated by the class instructor’s raggedy baby doll and its scrappy umbilical cord, which was repeatedly passed through a demonstration pelvis to show the class what happens during labour – it was like a weird black comedy/horror in which a demon baby attempts to dismantle the bone structure of its mother. I loved it! I also managed to find out what happens to the faecal matter (poo to the layman) that will undoubtedly be let loose in the birthing pool during a water-birth – something that has been plaguing my mind for weeks as I consider my options. Well, a sieve is used to remove it – the hospital does provide sieves or you can bring your own. Good to know. Note to self: do not consume prunes during labour – mushy poo will require more than one sieve and more manpower, which may prove inconvenient. I learnt some breathing techniques to help me relax, which is sure to accompany large quantities of gas and air in my case. And boy do I love the British: the ‘panting‘ breathing technique was discussed in a conservative manner that suited me just fine – there was none of this American-movie-lamaze-class rubbish with women weezing and “he…he…he-ing” all over the place; otherwise Mr Exit and I would have made very good friends.
Ultimately, antenatal class reminded me there is in fact a limit to the preparation one can do for an event that remains largely incomprehensible until after the fact. And although head-burying serves its purpose, knowledge is helpful. So here’s my theory: file the knowledge whilst I bury my head – then I’ll call on that knowledge when it is needed (hoping that it isn’t too dusty) and let instinct guide it. Give me 4 weeks and I’ll let you know how this works for me.